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McGovern's legacy lives on

George McGovern will not be forgotten -- at least not at Dakota Wesleyan University. The university put the late senator's memory in the spotlight Monday evening during the Living the Legacy Gala, hosted by the McGovern Center for Leadership and ...

George McGovern will not be forgotten - at least not at Dakota Wesleyan University.

The university put the late senator's memory in the spotlight Monday evening during the Living the Legacy Gala, hosted by the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service.

Raised in Mitchell, McGovern is most known as the Democratic nominee in the 1972 presidential election. But it wasn't just McGovern - who died in 2012 - honored Monday night, but several Dakota Wesleyan students, who are now following in his footsteps.

"The legacy event is a way for us to showcase the work of our center and our students from the past five years and celebrate the ways in which DWU still continues to impact lives through the McGovern legacy," said Alisha Vincent, director of the McGovern Center.

Dakota Wesleyan students were on hand during the gala, presenting their own legacy demonstrations as well as mingling with guests, talking of McGovern's impact on their education. Of these students was senior Amy Zeller, the first McGovern Legacy Scholar within the university.

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Zeller, of Elk Point, was named a scholar during the 2013-14 school year, and was awarded the McGovern Legacy Scholarship - one of the largest scholarships offered at Dakota Wesleyan.

"It has always felt more of becoming part of a larger team that works together," said Zeller, who is one of three McGovern Legacy Scholars now at Dakota Wesleyan. "And together, our team has never lacked inspiration, always drawing from the legacy of George McGovern."

Zeller reflected on her experiences in the last four years as a scholar at Dakota Wesleyan, including a trip to Uganda and her volunteer work with local organizations.

But it's McGovern's passion to help others and not back down in times of hardship that also motivated Zeller, she said.

"The McGovern legacy has also inspired me to be able and willing to take on difficult tasks with excitement and confidence," said Zeller, who added his legacy will still play a role after she graduates. "George McGovern never shied away from difficulty."

Kind words of McGovern's legacy filled the Sherman Center throughout the evening, but no words were more kind-hearted than those of Mark Lempke, who authored "My Brother's Keeper: George McGovern and Progressive Christianity."

"Here in Mitchell you have done such a good job of promoting and expanding his legacy. The displays we've seen (by students) are a testament to that," said Lempke, who served as the event's keynote speaker.

Lempke told the large crowd that while writing his book, he often pondered what made McGovern special, and why the small Mitchell-based university of Dakota Wesleyan commemorates him.

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Lempke shortly summed up McGovern's legacy with a simple hymn, titled "Draw the Circle Wide." The hymnal features lyrics that talk of standing side-by-side and nobody standing alone.

"This is one of nicest encapsulations as I can imagine on why McGovern is significant," Lempke said, adding in several accomplishments of McGovern's. "This was a man whose legacy is defined by drawing the circle wide. And, I think it's one hallmark of McGovern's legacy that we would be wise to emulate."

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